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Nintendo Switch Lite review

The best (and only) dedicated gaming handheld

Nintendo Switch Lite Review
(Image: © Nintendo Switch Lite)

Our Verdict

It’s hard to argue with the value that the Switch Lite brings to the table. An MSRP of $199 gets you a durable, lightweight handheld games console with a fantastic lineup of games. We wish it were a bit lighter and had better third-party support, but these are minor complaints.

For

  • The only dedicated handheld games console
  • Terrific first-party games lineup
  • Light and affordable

Against

  • Still too big for a handheld
  • Can’t play a small number of Switch games

Nintendo Switch Lite: What you need to know

While Sony and Microsoft beefed up the power of their respective consoles with their mid-generation revisions, Nintendo, as always, took their own path. The Nintendo Switch Lite is a smaller, lighter handheld only version of the incredibly popular Nintendo Switch. It forgoes the titular ability to switch between handheld and home console modes, instead focusing on improving comfortability and reducing costs.

The Nintendo Switch Lite isn’t just a throwback for nostalgic Game Boy owners though, it packs a surprising amount of power for a handheld device allowing you to play AAA games like The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and Overwatch on the go. What’s more, it’s cheap too. The Nintendo Switch Lite has an MSRP of $199, making it the cheapest current generation console available today. It also comes in a variety of colors and designs, including special edition themed consoles. 

Nintendo Switch Lite: Specs

  • Measures 3.6-inches high, 8.2-inches long, and 0.55-inches deep
  • As you might expect, lighter than the Nintendo Switch
  • Has a 5.5-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen

The Nintendo Switch Lite is, as you might expect, lighter than the Nintendo Switch. Coming in at around 0.61 lbs versus 0.88 lbs for the regular Switch with Joy-Cons attached. It’s smaller too, measuring 3.6-inches high, 8.2-inches long, and 0.55-inches deep. This doesn’t seem like a huge decrease in overall size, but the Switch Lite is noticeably more comfortable to use. It’s still a little bit too big to be comfortable over extended stretches, but it’s certainly an improvement.

This smaller size does decrease your screen real estate though. The Nintendo Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch capacitive LCD touch screen with a 1280x720 resolution, down from the 6.2 inch screen on the original model. Underneath the shell, the Nintendo Switch Lite is unchanged, powered by a Custom NVIDIA Tegra processor with a 32GB internal storage (6.2GB of which is reserved for system software). You can supplement this internal storage with microSD, microSDHC and microSDXC memory cards.

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The internal battery can last anywhere from three to seven hours, depending on how graphically demanding the game you’re playing is. For example, the battery should last around 4 hours when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The battery is charged using a USB Type-C cable and takes around three hours to fully charge.

The other major change is the Joy-Cons, which are now Joy-gones. Instead, the Nintendo Switch Lite comes with the controls built-in to the device. This helps with the size and weight reduction, but it does mean you lose their motion controller and multiplayer functionality.

Nintendo Switch Lite: Games and subscriptions

  • Access to Nintendo’s incredible first-party line-up of exclusive games
  • Some popular games are missing
  • Loss of the Joy-Cons also means you can’t play some games

On the games front, the Switch Lite is almost identical to the original Switch - you’ll have access to Nintendo’s incredible first-party line-up of exclusive games including Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WIld, and Pokémon Sword & Shield. There are also a good number of third-party titles making their way to the Switch ecosystem with smash hits like The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, Overwatch, and Fortnite all now available on the platform.

But while Nintendo have improved their third-party relationships, you still won’t find everything on the Nintendo Switch Lite. Popular games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Apex Legends are nowhere to be seen. And because the Nintendo Switch Lite is the weakest console on the market, the third-party games you do have access to will offer lower graphical fidelity and performance compared to other versions.

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The loss of the Joy-Cons also means that you can’t play some games. You’re not losing huge swaths of the game library, just a few party games like 1-2 Switch and Super Mario Party which rely on the Joy-Cons’ gyroscopic motion controls. It’s unlikely that you were looking to the Nintendo Switch Lite for multiplayer party games, but it’s worth considering when weighing up the Nintendo Switch Lite versus the regular Switch.

There’s also a subscription service to consider — Nintendo Switch Online. This service is required for online multiplayer gaming, much like Xbox Live Gold and PS+. Nintendo Switch Online also offers access to cloud save storage, exclusive deals and a library of classic NES and Super NES games. It’s a weak offering compared to the competition, but it’s also only $19.99 for a 12 month subscription.

Nintendo Switch Lite: User interface

  • Simplistic, but easy to navigate
  • Easily access your games and apps
  • Can only be used as a handheld

On the software side of things, the Nintendo Switch Lite is identical to its hybrid cousin. The UI is simplistic, but easy to navigate. You’ll easily be able to access your games and apps. The online store is also straightforward to use, but it can be difficult to find older games without knowing exactly what you’re searching for. 

Since there are no detachable Joy-Cons, the Nintendo Switch Lite can only be used as a handheld. You’re trading the flexibility of the original Switch’s hybrid approach for a cheaper, lighter handheld alternative. Whether that trade is worth it depends on you — if you’d only ever use it as a handheld, get the Nintendo Switch Lite. Otherwise, the Nintendo Switch might be worth considering.

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Lite: Multimedia

  • Support for streaming apps limited
  • Noteworthy apps supported include YouTube and Hulu
  • No Netflix or Amazon Prime support

Nintendo makes games consoles. It’s something they’re very proud of, as well they should be. What they don’t make is multimedia machines, so if you’re looking for streaming services you should probably look elsewhere. There are a couple of noteworthy apps on the Nintendo Switch Lite like YouTube and Hulu, but Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and Disney+ are all missing in action.

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Lite: Verdict

It may not have the power of the other consoles on the market, or the duality of the normal Nintendo Switch, but if you’re looking for a gaming handheld then the Nintendo Switch Lite is a fantastic option. 

At a bargain price of $199 you get access to Nintendo’s exceptional first-party games and a decent selection of third-party titles to boot. A better online service and a complete line-up of third party titles would be nice, but we think the Nintendo Switch Lite is an essential buy for the gamer on the go.